The Wire
All Due Respect

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Mr. Sobell: B | Grade It Now!
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"There's Never Been A Paper Bag"

It's another day in Charm City, as two boisterous young men stand outside a brick Baltimore row house. By the way, should the plummeting housing market ever torpedo a suddenly not-so-wise investment in the California real estate market, it is your correspondent's back-up plan to move to such a brick Baltimore row house, albeit one without the squalor and urban decay. One of the boisterous young men is relating to the other the tale of a tour-on who tried asking directions to the Poe House -- the punchline being that the young man thinks he is referring to the "Poor House" and not the one belonging at one time to noted author and absinthe-fiend Edgar Allen Poe. "I'm like, 'I don't know no Edward Allen Poe,'" the boisterous young man continues. "The man look at me all sad and shit, like I let him down." If it's any consolation to the dispirited tourist, at least his version of this anecdote did not end with "And then, as punishment for my literary snobbery, I got my face shot clean off." It is worth noting that passersby are discouraged from approaching the house when the other boisterous young man brandishes a sidearm. But before we can hear an equally hilarious misunderstanding involving some tourist looking for H.L. Mencken's house -- "Main King? Man, we've never had any kings in Baltimore!" -- a pair of passersby do muster up enough courage to approach the two boisterous young men. One is a jittery old man in a wheelchair; the other is a young lady dressed in nurses togs pushing said wheelchair. The young men admirably hold their fire, but they are just a little bit curious as to what this nurse and her patient think they're doing. "You know Miss Elaine in the back room, right?" the nurse asks. "This her brother, Earl, from the V.A. Hospital. He's supposed to stay with her." This story, along with a few well-timed coughs and wheezes from the bag of bones in the wheelchair, apparently checks out with these two doctoral candidates, and they decide to escort these two strangers into the house.

As proof that no good deed does not go immediately and swiftly unpunished -- we are watching The Wire, after all -- no sooner is everyone inside the house than the two boisterous young men realize that something is amiss. Their first clue: when the seemingly on-death's-door Earl suddenly says in a decidedly non-old-man voice, "Thank you, young man." If this were WWE Smackdown, right about now Jim Ross would be screaming, "Wha-- wait a minute! My God, that's Omar's music!" Indeed, the nurse draws a weapon, the suddenly fast-moving old man separates one of the guards from his sidearm, and we have ourselves a developing situation, especially when we learn that more Omar-affiliated gunmen are waiting outside. "Hey, yo, Omar," one of the sure-to-be-reprimanded guards protests. "Yo, all due respect, but this right here is a Barksdale joint, man." By which he means that Omar and company are holding up a Barksdale stash house. Removing his sunglasses, Omar appears unmoved; "Do tell," he says. Ah, Omar -- you put the "social" in "sociopath."

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The Wire

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